Tuesday

19th Feb 2019

LuxLeaks source appeals for EU whistleblower laws

  • Deltour in Brussels on Monday (Photo: europarl.europa.eu)

Antoine Deltour, who faces prison after showing how Luxembourg cost the EU billions in lost tax revenue, has appealed for better protection for whistleblowers.

He told the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday (1 June) that he’s “proud of what has resulted from my case … I see it as recognition for my decision to go public”.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

But he added that other “whistleblowers are [being] discouraged by [the] consequences I’m undergoing”.

Luxembourg has one of the most advanced whistleblower protection regimes in the EU, according to the Berlin-based NGO Transparency International (TI).

Its law on “strengthening the means to fight corruption” gives cover to public and private sector employees who report criminal activity to their superiors or to Luxembourg authorities.

But it doesn’t cover people who report unethical behaviour or who leak to media or civil society.

"You are protected if you reveal illegalities. The [tax] rulings that I disclosed aren’t illegal, even though they go against the public interest. This is why I went to the press and not to the authorities”, Deltour said.

The former employee at PwC, an audit firm, five years ago passed 28,000 internal files to a French reporter.

The files, published in December by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, show that the Grand Duchy let hundreds of big companies pay almost no tax in sweetheart deals, known as “comfort letters”, which also resulted in lost revenue for fellow EU states.

The revelations triggered a European Commission probe and a European Parliament special committee on “LuxLeaks”.

They also shamed EU commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, a former Luxembourg PM.

Luxembourg prosecutors, the same month, indicted Deltour on charges which could see him jailed for five years and fined €1.25 million.

An aide to Luxembourg’s interior minister, who asked not to be named, told EUobserver on Monday the case isn’t politically motivated because the Duchy’s judiciary “has total independence … there’s full separation of powers”.

But Molly Scott Cato, a British Green MEP on the LuxLeaks committee, the same day accused Luxembourg of “state oppression of a person acting in the public good”.

Alain Lamassoure, the French centre-right committee chair, also said the EU should take action on whistleblowers.

The parliament support is part of a wider pro-Deltour campaign, endorsed by leading NGOs, academics, and journalists, as well as Edward Snowden, the US intelligence leaker who failed to get EU asylum.

A commission spokesman told this website the bloc’s new anti-money laundering directive, which shortly enters into force, includes some protection.

He noted that a second bill, on trade secrets, which is still under discussion, also includes protection.

But he added that “criminal law is basically a member state competence”.

Carl Dolan, the head of TI’s Brussels’ office, said there’s “very uneven protection for whistleblowers around the EU”.

He added: "The Deltour case shows that the kind of issues you might want to reveal have an impact beyond one country’s borders".

“There should be a minimum level of protection around the EU because of the cross-border impact of, for instance, tax decisions. But governments are very reluctant to move forward on this”.

LuxLeaks trial to be whistleblower showcase

The trial of Antoine Deltour, who leaked documents on Luxembourg's sweetheart tax deals with big firms, will be used by campaigners and politicians to push for a law to protect whistleblowers.

News in Brief

  1. Visegrad countries meeting with Israel called off
  2. EU ministers call climate change 'direct and existential threat'
  3. Seven MPs leave Britain's Labour Party
  4. Czech PM: May's EU elections 'most important ever'
  5. 'History will judge us': May tells MPs on Brexit
  6. Trump warns EU on release of Islamist fighters
  7. Venezuela expels 'conspiratorial' MEPs
  8. Holocaust dispute upsets Israel's EU lobbying

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  2. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  3. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  5. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  7. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  8. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups

Latest News

  1. Italian populists could be second biggest force in EU parliament
  2. Merkel defends Russia ties, ridicules Trump on cars
  3. British MPs condemn Facebook CEO's misrule
  4. EU's chance to step up on Hungary and Poland
  5. ESA pushback against new EU space agency plan
  6. Sluggish procedure against Hungary back on table
  7. Could Finnish presidency fix labour-chain abuse?
  8. Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us